One of the most critical times for military service members is the reintegration from active service to veteran status. The transition from the military to a civilian career can be particularly challenging. The same can be said for transitioning from any employment for veterans. That is why Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services puts an emphasis on Workforce Development. Dixon Center's unique partnership with the building trades, training institutions, employers, and federal agencies, like the Department of Defense, is one example in a series of connections forged to eliminate major barriers for our veterans and their families.
As a Center of Excellence, we provide and coordinate technical assistance/training, resource sharing, and strong leadership to our partners, who, with our ongoing support, operate pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs resulting in career opportunities in skilled labor across myriad of industries.
Operation Workforce Development is a program where Dixon Center partners with organizations including trade unions, civic organizations, business and industry, service providers, and training institutions by leveraging existing training and career placement opportunities. Our goal is not to create new programs. Rather, the goal is to enable the integration of military and veteran services into existing programs to increase impact.
Over the past five years, Operation Workforce Development has resulted in our partners training and employing over 7,000 transitioning service members and veterans who have been out of service for years.
Despite our success leveraging organizations to include veterans and their families into their existing programs, we've found that workforce development operators will have to recreate opportunities. These are a few actions Dixon Center is taking to keep Operation Workforce Development impactful.
- Looking beyond training and creating emergency support the veterans need: Our workforce development partners typically focus on assisting with employment and removing barriers to that goal. During the pandemic, our partners have used Dixon Center as their go to resource in coordinating basic needs and emergency assistance for veterans in training programs delayed by current social conditions.
- Building opportunities for re-employment whenever possible: As veterans lose jobs due to economic impacts of the pandemic, there are jobs going unfilled, and it is possible to start training and creating access to paid apprenticeships now. Of course, effective re-employment may require remote credentialing and licensing, it also requires flexibility, as veterans' lives are complicated by health and safety, childcare, and other challenges. We are looking to expand opportunities by building partnerships with more local building trade councils.
- Virtual learning is a consideration for the future: What we have learned over the past several years of war and related deployments is that high-quality certifications and training programs can be delivered remotely, and that service members and veterans can participate. Even before veterans and their families are able to fully return to in-person training, we are collaborating with partners to create training models that incorporate virtual learning and individual coaching to enhance in-person classes. We are also seeking solutions for remote service delivery identified by our partner SingleStop to achieve our goal to remove the barriers of travel time, inaccessible public transportation, affordable housing and the financial challenges of paying for childcare and transportation to attend classes.